The J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), founded in 1864, is one of the oldest and largest enduring advertising agencies in the United States. Vergil Reed was director of the U.S Bureau of the Census (1940s), Director of Research and an economist with J. Walter Thompson Company (1940s-1950s), as well as a professor of marketing and foreign trade at Michigan State, Columbia and Boston Universities. Lubertus Smilde was Reed's colleague and successor in the Market Research Department at JWT. The Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde Papers span the years 1944 to 1960 and include correspondence, memoranda, office files, client files, reports, speeches, and newspaper clippings, as well as some advertisements. The material forms the body of extant records for Reed's work as Director of Research for JWT; however, a substantial portion of the collection originated in the office of Reed's colleague and successor, Lubertus Smilde. Topics include analysis of population trends and their influence on various markets; views of the private enterprise system; how research findings might be applicable to JWT clients; and work on JWT's World Markets Series. Correspondents include Arno Johnson, Samuel Meek, and Norman Strouse.
The Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde Papers span the years 1944 to 1960 and include correspondence, memoranda, office files, client files, reports, speeches, and newspaper clippings, as well as some advertisements. The material forms the body of extant records for Reed's work as Director of Research for JWT; however, a substantial portion of the collection originated in the office of Reed's colleague and successor, Lubertus Smilde. Topics include analysis of population trends and their influence on various markets; views of the private enterprise system; how research findings might be applicable to JWT clients; and work on JWT's World Markets series. Correspondents include Arno Johnson, Samuel Meek, and Norman Strouse.
The papers depict Reed, as well as Smilde, as a trained economist leading JWT's Research Department. In a letter to Stanley Resor, written on October 11, 1945 by Paul H. Nystrom, a professor at Columbia University's School of Business, Reed's strength as an economist is mentioned (in the Correspondence Series). Nystrom suggests Reed's role at JWT, recommending to Resor that Reed continue the study of population trends and to apply their meaning to business. This is reflected in materials in the collection, which contains a numerous documents showing the analysis of population trends and the illustration of their influence to the various markets, especially those of the foreign nations. The information was compiled by Reed and later by Smilde and was distributed to the JWT personnel and clients. In a memorandum written by Reed on May 1, 1958 to Robert Berry, for example, Reed provides facts on population trends and his interpretations of them to be included in Norman Strouse's speech (in the New York Office folder in the JWT Office Series). The papers also include market analysis compiled by other JWT offices. For instance, the JWT Office Series contains a report prepared by the Tokyo Office on Japanese dairy product market. Many materials throughout the collection include reference to the World Markets Books, a series prepared and published by JWT. The papers, especially those in the folder titled World Markets Books (1958) in the Subject Files Series, indicate that Reed had an important role for the project. The Series did not see the completion at the time of Reed's retirement. In a letter written to Howard Kohl on April 16, 1958, Reed suggests Smilde to be his successor (in the Correspondence Series). Subsequently, the Smilde papers, dated mostly from 1960, frequently mentions the World Markets books.
The collection is organized into three series: The Correspondence Series contains letters and memos written by and to Reed as well as those written by and to Smilde. Reed's correspondence with a numerous JWT offices, both domestic and international, is included in the JWT Offices Series. The JWT Offices Series consists primarily of letters written by and to Reed in 1958. Those that date from the second half of the year, however, were written exclusively by Smilde, since Reed retired from JWT in June, 1958. The Subject Files Series contains materials from Reed's office in 1958 and those of Smilde's office in 1960.
The Correspondence Series contains congratulatory messages upon Reed's appointment to JWT and promotion to Vice President as well as letters relating to Reed's speeches and articles, and the 1951 edition of Population and Its Distribution, edited by Reed. The aforementioned letter written by Reed on May 28, 1953, for example, describes Reed's sources for a report entitled "Advertising Appropriations." Letters of especial note, which reflect Reed's competence, include those written by Reed on December 17, 1946 and on May 28, 1953. In the former, Reed expresses his view on the private enterprise system in length. In the latter, Reed provides description of the trends in beer advertising appropriations and his proposals for Labatt beer. The series also contains letters and memos written by Smilde, who was involved with the study of international markets and collected information from a variety of publications in the world. In a memorandum dated on August 26, for example, Smilde provides Richard Brecker, the head of the New Business Department, with information on Janome Machine Company, one of the largest Japanese sewing machine manufacturing company. The information was based on a German newspaper clipping, a copy of which is attached to the memo. The Subject Files Series also contains Smilde's correspondence, particularly that with Samuel Meek.
The JWT Offices Series contains Reed's correspondence of 1958 with a numerous JWT offices, both domestic and international. Letters to the European offices frequently mentions a visit of Advance Survey Team. The team was, under Public Law 480, to study possibilities for promotion and sale of American feed grain and was scheduled to visit Belgium, England, Germany (West), Greece, Holland, and Italy. The New York Office was asked to send a letter of introduction to the JWT offices in those countries where the team was to visit (see for example a letter written by Reed on April 15, 1958 to Douglas Saunders at the London Office). The JWT Offices Series also contains Smilde's correspondence, which mostly dates from the second half of the year 1958. After Reed's retirement in June, 1958, Smilde was apparently the main correspondent for the Research Department, especially on the matters related to the World Markets books. The Correspondence Series also includes Smilde's 1960 letters discussing the matters related to the Series (see for example Smilde's memorandum to Howard Kohl on April 1, 1960).
The Subject Files Series contains materials related to the researches undertaken by Reed and his team. There is, for example, a folder titled "Interurbia," a study of urban growth and decentralization in the Northeastern part of the U.S. conducted jointly by JWT and the School of Architecture and Design of Yale University. Other materials illustrate Reed's association with government agencies. For example, the series contains a folder consisting of papers documenting Reed's activities as a member of the Travel Advisory Committee, which was organized by Bureau of Foreign Commerce of the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1958. The series, however, scarcely provides information on Reed's other activities with government agencies. A note written by Reed on May 31, 1956, for example, verifies that Reed was a member of the U.S. Trade Mission to Japan (in the Correspondence Series), but the papers hardly illustrate Reed's activities in this capacity. The materials dated from 1960 in the Subject Files Series derived from Smilde's office, including, as mentioned above, Smilde's correspondence with Samuel Meek.
The Papers are incomplete in that the collection consists mostly of materials originating in only the years 1958 and 1960. A note dating January 14, 1958 indicates that Reed's files going back to 1955 had once existed (in the Correspondence Series). According to the note, the contents of the 1955 files were similar to those of the 1958 files, but the number of the 1955 files was much higher than that of the 1958 files as the former included numerous client files.